Missouri State tops FAU at Gulf Coast Showcase

Missouri State got 14 points apiece from Jarrid Rhodes and Alize Johnson and rode the strength of five significant runs to put away Florida Atlantic, 71-60, in the consolation championship game of the Gulf Case Showcase Wednesday.

Johnson snagged a team-high 8 rebounds and dished out 4 assists, while Rhodes knocked down three 3-pointers for MSU (4-2). The Bears also got 10 points apiece from J.T. Miller and Jarred Dixon.

FAU (2-3) got a game-high 16 points from Gerdarius Troutman, who was 4-for-5 from long range, and 10 rebounds from Amir Smith.

After leading 36-28 at the midway point, the Bears opened up the second half with a 7-0 run that Johnson ignited with a mid-range jumper. Ronnie Rousseau III followed that up with a 3-pointer, and Rhodes converted a layup to push the Bears ahead, 43-28, less than 90 seconds into the final period.

The Bears’ lead grew to 20 points later in the half on a 10-2 outburst by the Springfield club. Dixon and Reggie Scurry contributed four points apiece in the run that made it 55-35 with 12:31 to play.

MSU’s defense kept the Owls without a field goal for more than seven minutes midway through the second half, and Dixon’s jumper with 8:24 to play gave the Bears their biggest lead of the afternoon, 63-40.

Down the stretch, Obediah Church threw home a one-handed dunk on a long, laser-like pass from Johnson with seven-and-a-half minutes to go that put the Bears up 65-43.

FAU responded with a 10-0 run, but victory was assured with solid free throw shooting by Miller and Ryan Kreklow in the clutch, while Johnson ended a five-minute field goal drought by the Bears to put things on ice.

Missouri State held FAU to just 35.6 percent shooting for the game on 21-of-59 attempts while using impressive defensive runs to force 12 turnovers and out-rebound the Owls by a 45-31 margin.

MSU finished 29-of-63 (.460), including an even 50-percent in the second half, and converting 9-of-12 (.750) from the stripe with 16 assists.

In the first half, the bigger Owls jumped out to a 9-3 lead before MSU used a 12-4 run over the next six minutes to lead 15-13. Baskets by Miller, Scurry and two by Rousseau sparked an 8-0 Bears’ run in a stretch that changed the tides.

FAU retook the lead briefly, 17-15, midway through the opening period, but the Bears rallied behind a Johnson-led 6-0 rally to push back in front.

With under three minutes left in the half, Rhodes sparked an 11-2 run before the intermission with a pair of 3-pointers and a layup. His four-point play with 33 seconds left in the half made it a 36-25 game before FAU canned a triple before the final horn to send the Bears to a 36-28 lead at the break.

MSU returns to JQH Arena Friday evening when the Bears take on cross-town foe Evangel at 7 p.m

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